Refusal of SSS to Release Suswam Stalls Fresh Arraignment as Court Orders Him Produced in Court on Next Adjournment

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the State Security Services (SSS) to produce the immediate past Governor of Benue State Gabriel Suswam on the May 11 to answer fresh allegations of fraud against him.
Suswam is being accused of fraudulently diverting the sum of N3.7bn funds sourced from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), meant for the state.
When the office of Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Tuesday arraigned Suswam afresh, the trial Judge asked the prosecution counsel to effect service of the new charges on the Legal Department of SSS, while declaring that the 2nd and 3rd defendant shall remain on administrative bail.
According to the 32 count charge filed by the AGF, Suswam is to be arraigned alongside Omadaji Oklobia and Janet Anuga for a fresh charges.
Although the 2nd and 3rd defendant were present in court, the prosecution counsel, Aminu Halilu said that the 1st defendant refused to be served the charge when approached.
The prosecutor also added that the defendants have been on administrative bail granted to them by the Nigerian Police.
Halilu said:”The 1st defendant is on administrative bail granted to him by the police. When we went to serve him we discovered that he was in custody of the SSS
“Effort to serve him in accordance with 2 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) failed”
Responding, counsel to the 1st defendant, Adebayo Adedeji said the prosecution counsel is wrong to have said that Suswam refused to be served.
Adedeji said:”Yesterday at about 2-3pm two officers of the Nigerian Police Force worked into our office seeking to be serve us this instant suit and out of respect to this honourable court we received it in protest
“Our objection is that being an originated process it ought to be served personally on the defendant
“What police did is presumptuous.The fact that we are representing him in another matter does not mean we are to represent him in this one
“It cannot be correct to say that Suswam refused to be served” Adedeji said.
While the 2nd and 3rd defence counsel, David Iorhenea prayed the court that due to the absence of the 1st defendant the matter cannot go on because they are jointly charged.
The Judge adjourned till May 11, while ordering SSS to produce Suswam on that date.
Suswam and Okolobia were previously docked before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the same high court on a nine-count money laundering charge.
The defendants who were arraigned on November 10, 2015, were accused of diverting proceeds of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment & Property Company Ltd.
Though they pleaded not guilty to the charge, the EFCC however maintained that it has sufficient evidence to prove that they committed an offence punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

Author: News Editor

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